If you’re looking for a way to take values from your own spreadsheets, in order to upload VAT (and later tax) returns to HMRC, then you have found the right place. We have a simple solution in order for you to continue to use your spreadsheets, and still comply with the Making Tax Digital requirements. Please take a look at the the details below.

What does MTD (making tax digital) mean for spreadsheets?

Since MTD (making tax digital) was announced, HMRC have changed their minds regarding the use of spreadsheets. They have settled on the fact that spreadsheets can be used to store electronic records, and can be used to submit VAT (and later quarterly Tax) returns. Having said this, they DO have to conform to this important rule.

They have to communicate with HMRC via APIs, WITHOUT copying and pasting or re-typing figures.

This means that your spreadsheet will need to be set up to automatically produce the correct figures, in the correct cells, on the correct tab. Once correct, the spreadsheet can then be uploaded to HMRC, via a 3rd party website or application. This way you are not copying and pasting values to submit, but the values are automatically calculated. This eliminates careless errors.

To help you to achieve this, we have broken the process into two stages. Here are your options for each stage.

You need a spreadsheet which is correctly set up to export figures for HMRC.

  1. You can adapt your own spreadsheet accordingly, we have a video to show you how to do that (see below).
  2. You can purchase one of our MTD-friendly spreadsheets in our store (click on the MTD filter).
  3. You can get us to make you a custom Excel spreadsheet which will be MTD-friendly.

You need a 3rd party solution to upload your spreadsheet to HMRC.

  1. We have found such a solution, which can be found using the link shown.

Please ensure that the spreadsheet which you are using to submit your return is compliant with the instructions shown in the video below. If it is NOT done correctly, it will not work properly, and may cause you some serious issues.

Please note that at the moment, you need to sign up for Making Tax Digital (even if you are already VAT registered). If you have not signed up, these solutions will not work for you. Please just keep in mind that when you do sign up, the old VAT return portal will not work for you, you will then need to use a MTD solution. We’re not sure what action HMRC will take in the future though, they may force everyone onto MTD at some point.

How do I get my spreadsheets ready to upload them to HMRC?

In order to enable your spreadsheets to be able to upload your VAT (and in future TAX) returns:


  1. You will need to make sure that all of the required data in in the correct format, in the correct cells, on the correct tab. This is to ensure that the application uploading your return, knows where to find all of the relevant data.
  2. You could just purchase a spreadsheet from us which is already set up and compliant.

Please watch this 123 sheets video to see how to complete both of these steps properly.

Please note that this video only relates to the 3rd party application from 123 sheets. This layout and procedure DOES NOT work with ALL 3rd party applications to upload spreadsheet data to HMRC. Spreadsheet Solutions’ MTD spreadsheets are compatible with the 123 sheets 3rd party application, and may not work with others.

Although we are not connected with 123 sheets in any way, we do recommend 123 sheets as our preferred 3rd part application for submitting returns to HMRC via spreadsheets.

Click here to see why we chose 123 sheets

When HMRC decided on Making Tax Digital, and then to allow spreadsheets, we were concerned about what solutions would be created. We are spreadsheet enthusiasts, as are many of our clients, so we wanted this process to be as simple and as ‘spreadsheet friendly’ as possible. We wanted to avoid things like:

  1. Excel plugins or add-ons.
  2. Macro enabled workbooks.
  3. Uploading spreadsheet data via bookkeeping software solutions.

We wanted a solution where you would upload a macro-free spreadsheet, via a 3rd party website, and be HMRC compliant.

We really struggled to find such a solution, as most solutions would break at least one of the rules above, and we didn’t see that as acceptable. So much so, that we even set out to create a solution ourselves. The problem is that there are many hurdles to creating such a solution, so when we discovered that 123 sheets had created a similar solution to what we were doing, we decided to discontinue with our project and rather just make use of 123 sheets.

We believe from a spreadsheet point of view, this is the best solution, and it is almost identical to what we were planning. 123 sheets are a completely different company to Spreadsheet Solutions, we are not linked in any way, other than the fact that we recommend them as a 3rd party solution to MTD and spreadsheets. We make our spreadsheets compatible with their software, but your dealing with them is between you and 123 sheets.

You can read more about this here.

Once you watched the video, please use the links below to either visit 123 sheets (where you can upload your return or download a template of the export sheet), search for a MTD spreadsheet, or to simply return to our home page.

If you’ve found what you were looking for, why not return to our home page to continue exploring.